“A lot of how kids will react and feel stems from parents’ tone,” said Jamie Howard, Ph.D., a senior clinical psychologist and the director of the Trauma and Resilience Program at the Child Mind Institute, in New York City. “Keep kids in the loop, but don’t scare them,” Dr. Howard advised. “Just some basic facts to give meaning to the situation.”

“There’ll be a transition period; post-traumatic stress symptoms are normal in the first month,” following a crisis, said Dr. Howard. But both during the pandemic, and after, parents should check on kids, making sure they’re sleeping and eating well, practicing self-care and socializing. If a child’s basic functioning in these areas, or others, like school or relationships, shows negative change, parents should seek support.